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consciousness

Eugene Khutoryansky ekhutory at glibm8.cen.uiuc.edu
Wed May 21 17:49:54 EST 1997



On 21 May 1997, F. Frank LeFever wrote:

> >	We are animals, and are conscious by definition.
> 
> 
> WHAT THE HELL IS THAT SUPPOSED TO MEAN?
> 

I can not answer for the author of this post, but this comment is similar 
to one which I would make regarding this issue, so here is what I would 
mean by it.  The answer to whether or not animals are conscious is 
obviously yes because humans are animals.  But someone could claim that 
this does not imply that all animals are conscious.  However, what you 
actually know is only that YOU are conscious.  You can not know for 
certain whether or not any other human being is conscious.  But we assume 
that they are.  We should be consistent.  The evidence that other species 
are conscious is of the exact same quality as evidence that other human 
beings are conscious.  To be consistent you should either believe that 
our own species and other species are both conscious, or that humans 
(other than yourself) and other species are both unconscious.  The second 
alternative is clearly unacceptable.

For those of you who are about to reply by listing all the features 
regarding humans which you think provide evidence of consciousness and do 
not exist in other species, please first read the other (somewhat lengthy) 
post which I just made.

Regarding this whole silly mirror thing, it is a mistake to assume that 
consciousness necessarily implies the ability to recognize your 
reflection in a mirror.  I would agree that a being which recognizes its 
reflection in a mirror is probably conscious, but it is incorrect to assume 
that a being is not conscious because it does not recognize its reflection.  A 
severely mentally retarded human might not recognize his reflection, but 
this does not mean that he is not conscious.





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